Client Interview with Corina Beczner, Green Wedding and Event ExpertPlease take a moment to read this before hiring Corina Beczner and her planning team.
How long have you been doing this, and how did you become a green wedding and event planner?A defining moment in my life came for me in 2004 after having just helped my best friend plan her dream wedding on the California coast. After six years of dabbling in special event planning as a volunteer, it was this full event planning experience that helped me to realized that I absolutely adore helping people create meaningful celebrations, and weddings floated to the top of the list! I felt a new sense of fulfillment, and received complements I'd never heard up to that point. It was an incredible feeling that I still remember to this day.
But, as much fun as it was, it was hard and sometimes stressful work. Of course the biggest battle was finding resources that fit inside the budget, but another unanticipated challenge, was sourcing services and products that also met our environmental values.
At first it seemed impossible to create a wedding that wasn't a cookie cutter type event, with the usual approach we think we're supposed to produce. We wanted something different, and at that time, it was proving increasingly hard to get vendors to think outside the box, so I became fearful that the experience would completely miss the essence of who my best friend and her fiancée were.
But I persisted, and here is how I overcame the challenge: I committed myself to finding like-minded vendors by interviewing them about their business practices and event operations, and I took my 10 years of experience as a green -business manager to develop a checklist of eco-attributes we would be sure to incorporate at the event- like recycling, buying local as much as possible, and reducing the amount of "stuff". I also made sure to enlist the support of family and friends, and we successfully designed an event experience that brought hand crafted, eco-friendly, and thoughtful products and services together...accurately presenting the Bride & Groom and what they care about. People today still tell us what a meaningful event that was for them to be a part of!
Weeks later, I entered my first semester of graduate school, an MBA in Sustainable Management in San Francisco, CA, and it was here where I first realized the opportunity I had to become an entrepreneur and merge my background and passion in sustainability with producing meaningful weddings and events. There was no official "green wedding planner" in the marketplace...yet! I made it my goal to graduate with an MBA and start a powerful new offer in the world for eco-brides and grooms, and in 2007 I started my company, Vibrant Events with that mission.
Now, I'm personally designing and producing eco-conscious celebrations for brides and grooms, as well as non-profit and corporate organizations in Northern and Southern California, and a few in the New York and Washington DC areas. I'm applying over ten years of experience in green business project management, my learning in leadership and team dynamics, and my intuitive coaching skills to help each of my clients create their dream celebration, and feel great doing so!
This truly is a dream career for me, being able to connect my clients with the amazing small and medium size green wedding and event vendors in the SF Bay Area and beyond. My personal goal in life is to help celebrate our life's journey and what we care about, while leaving a lighter footprint for future generations on this planet. I'm sure that's something we can all get behind!
We love your planning services, and your portfolio, everything sounds fantastic… so can you tell us what sets you apart from other wedding planners out there?Many well-known planners and designers have been in the "business" for so long that they are unaware that a "green" event doesn't have to be a "crunchy-granola" experience, and many haven't taken the time to explore alternative approaches to event design- like low energy lighting, non-toxic floral arrangements, creative reuse, and zero-waste event solutions. They use the same vendors over and over, and have relationships locked in place, making it hard to bring "out of the box" thinking to a new client.
My specialty is not only integrating green living and design principles into events, but also being creative on any budget-- utilizing DIY opportunities and knowing how to effectively allocate your budget where there will be the most impact. To make sure you have an event that truly reflects who you are, I keep my vendor relationships loose, meaning I don't get kick-backs, nor do I have a locked down lists you need to use when working with me. I want each of the events I produce to be different from the last, and will gladly take the time to research new opportunities and approaches which might make your event something no one has experienced before.
As a full-time wedding and event planner, I have all day to make myself available to you, our vendors, and researching new solutions for your event. I don't let any call go to voice mail because I'm a day-time job…YOU and your event is my only job…I'm working for you during business hours, five days a week!
Plus, I'm a very intuitive person and a natural coach. I will always lend a helping hand emotionally to all my engaged couples as they move through the stresses family and friends induce, and the frustrations that come with making thousands of decisions about their wedding. Let's face it.. .it's a lot to move through for any relationship, and I know that one of the huge roles I play as a wedding planner is to lift as much of the worry off my clients so work on planning their life together.
And, I don't do anything that I don't absolutely love doing, so you'll not only get an incredible, well planned event, but we'll also have a blast working together!
This all sounds so wonderful, but it also seems expensive, will we be able to afford this?I wouldn't be a good event planner if I didn't tell you that frankly, you can't afford not to have us! I'm sure you've been to a wedding where the bride was the go-to person for each decision. Doesn't that sound stressful, where unforeseen incidents happen and no one is behind the scenes to handle it discretely? Having a planner/coordinator to help direct the event and run interference on any issues that may come up, allows the bride and groom to be uninterrupted on their day. Don't you agree that kind of security is priceless?
Plus, producing an event is a time consuming process. Those wedding timelines you see online which start one year ahead of time aren't lying. Are you wondering why it takes so long? Well, a lot of the time is spent outreaching to different vendors, coordinating conversations, interviewing, and thumbing through countless proposals, and then going back again for proposal revisions and negotiating rates.. x10 (or more)— for the venue, caterer, florist, lighting, linen rentals, specialty furniture, guest coaches, limo, photographer, videographer, etc…. In my experience, just finding the right caterer for some couples, can take up to 3 months, and 10 different proposals…seriously!
Working with a planner frees up your time so you don't spend your day's researching vendors, reading Yelp! reviews, fielding hundreds of emails and countess missed calls. After all, don't all photographers start to look the same after a while? Won't it be more fun to just show up for tastings, tour the flower market with your floral designer, and join your wedding planner for bi-weekly phone meetings/check-ins? When you really think about your wedding dream and what that means to you, having the space to enjoy your wedding day, and feeling excited and secure during the planning process is so worth it!
Who do you work best with?I love to work with newly engaged couples just like you who are living a green lifestyle and are ready to get started planning their dream green wedding. In fact a lot of my clients when they find me were ready to start planning yesterday! They either know they have limited time to plan their wedding, or they are running out of time because it's been more work than they realized, and they are afraid they might not have the kind of experience they envisioned.
I love our first "Get Started" meeting because it's where I spend 2+ hours with new clients getting to know them—what they love, what they don't, their wedding ideas so far, the challenges they foresee, and the special details about their relationship which make them unique. It's a rich experience and I always come away excited to get the ball rolling, and to work hard to make their wedding even more special than they imagined.
Really, my ideal client knows they want a wedding celebration that is deeply meaningful and personal to them on many levels. They want to integrate thoughtful elements that both personalize and reflect who they are and what they care about…be it their spiritual beliefs, their favorite hobbies, their unique style, or their values in living a sustainable lifestyle. There is a desire for them to support the green economy by choosing local, organic, and sustainable products and services. But most of all, my ideal client is looking for someone that will help them think "outside the box" when it comes to planning their wedding, while still paying attention to the tradition of marriage and helping them to honor their special commitment through the eyes of the most important people in their lives.
Will I lose control of my wedding if you are planning it for me?When I work with couples, I enter into a partnership with them. Together we are your wedding team, and as the Bride & Groom you of course get the last say on each decision. It is my job to bring you the best ideas, inspirations, and recommendations in keeping with your event vision, and your job to say yes, no, or maybe so…sometimes, a client will let me make the decision or two on my own, when they don't have a care one way or another. The great thing in working with any wedding or event planner is that you will feel more in control of what you are creating because we will be the facilitator of your vision!
Will you work with vendors I've already found, or people I want to work with?Absolutely! Many of my clients have friends in the business that they want to support, and I love that because there is a familiarity that exists for my client, and that makes it more fun for them. Also, I get an opportunity to work with someone new, or to assist someone just starting out in the wedding business, and that helps me learn and grow.
I have to be honest here too though, and say that I will make sure the vendor you found already or want to work with is well suited to your desire and needs. Mainly that they have the right qualification and background to deliver on the kind of experience and expectations you and I have for your event.
We know you plan and coordinate weddings, but what about other special events or celebrations?I love to plan green celebrations of any kind! While weddings has been our primary focus since starting the company, the largest events I've produced have been special events…Galas of 600 people and "green" carpet celebrations up to 1,200 guests—including celebrities!
Having worked in the non-profit sector for years, specifically with environmental organizations, I know how to work well with a Board of Directors, which is a real asset when planning fundraisers, donor dinners, etc. When planning non-profit special events, particularly fundraisers there is often an added element of seeking donated services and products for the event. After years of being in the business now, I'm lucky to have great relationships with some incredible event services companies whom over the years have been generous donors for fundraisers and Galas I've produced.
Also, because of my specialty niche in green events, I've also been lucky to work with corporations who want to integrate sustainable event principles into their special events. Make sure you check-out some of the very cool eco-events we've produced in our gallery. I'm really proud of this work!